Lee v. Borders, No. 13-3128 (8th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit against defendant, an employee of the Center, in state court for battery and under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for deprivation of her substantive due process right to bodily integrity. Plaintiff also filed suit against the Center and the Department, who removed the case to federal court and were subsequently dismissed from the case. The case stemmed from defendant's sexual assault of plaintiff while plaintiff was a resident at the Center. The jury returned a verdict against defendant on both counts and awarded plaintiff $1 million in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages. The court affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law where there was sufficient evidence to find that defendant was acting under color of state law when he assaulted plaintiff. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of defendant's motion for a new trial where the district court's consent jury instruction was proper; even if the jurors were confused by the instruction, defendant's substantial rights were not affected; the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding the jury's compensatory damages award was sufficiently supported by the evidence presented; and the punitive damages award was not unconstitutionally excessive. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.